We are spreading kindness this month through our 100 Acts of Kindness project. We are challenging our readers to perform 100 acts of kindness between Jan 16th and Feb 14th. You can read more about our kindness challenge here. Many of our blogging friends have joined the challenge and will be sharing ways that you can spread kindness here and on their blogs. Today we have Danielle from Mommy and Me Book Club as our guest blogger. She is sharing an idea that goes right along with Kindness Challenge #4: Look Outward and Give. Welcome Danielle!
Before I had children, I was constantly searching for and involved with community organizations. I loved serving others, especially children. I spent many hours a week volunteering for different causes that I was passionate about. Before I had children, I also imagined that as a Stay at Home Mom, I would continue to serve in the community, serving soup to the hungry with a baby on my back. Tutoring in inner city schools while my toddler sat next to me in a stroller. I thought that when I didn't have to go to work each day, I would fill my days with service to others.
I am not sure what happened. I am not devaluing the service I render each day to my children. I know it is the most important work I can be doing right now and I love every minute of it. I wake up every morning overwhelmed with gratitude that this is my life. That I get to be here in this home, with this man, with these three wonderful children. I love my life. Which makes it even harder to understand how I allowed 7 years to go by without helping anyone outside the walls of our own home or church community.
I truly believe that "Because I have been given much, I too must give." I want my children to learn to follow the Savior's example of healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and comforting the lonely. And I want them to learn it by serving side by side with me and their dad. I want to be a family that serves the community together. I prayed to be led to an opportunity where I could serve with my small children. An opportunity that would be meaningful to them, one that they could actually DO and contribute in a meaningful way.
Then this past fall, I read in the newspaper about moms who were serving hungry children at local schools. Each Friday, these moms were packing backpacks filled with a few “ready to eat meals.” These backpacks were sent home with children who usually get breakfast and lunch for free at school, through government assistance, and whose teachers thought that they might not have anything to eat over the weekend. The Food Bank was providing these weekend meals, but needed manpower to get them distributed.
I knew immediately that this was something that I wanted my kids and I to be involved in. It was perfect. It was a concrete experience that children could do themselves. They could help pack food into backpacks. They could carry backpacks. And it was something I thought they might like doing. I mean, what little one doesn’t love wearing backpacks like the big kids?
I found a church near our house who was participating in this program and they agreed to let me and two of my mom friends join their efforts. Each Friday, our 7 preschoolers go to this church to help put food into backpacks. They get to place the backpacks onto a cart and help push the cart to a van where the Moms load them in. Then we take a short drive to the school to deliver the backpacks. Once we arrive at the school, (and we unbuckle 7 kids out of car seats) each of our children carries a backpack into the building where we deliver them to the guidance counselor. (She delivers the backpacks to the recipients, in order to maintain privacy).
The entire experience only takes about 30 minutes, but it is the perfect amount of time for my two year old’s attention span. I don’t know how much help we give in actuality, with our 7 little ones ages 5 and under, but I appreciate the coordinator giving us this chance to teach our children about feeding the hungry. As moms, we stand back and let the kids do as much as they possibly can. This probably makes things take twice as long. But you can see the joy in their faces and the sense of accomplishment of doing something important and “big” all by themselves.
I wasn’t sure how much my two little ones understood about what we were doing each week. Whether it was having the intended impact in the lives of my children. Then last Friday, while we were packing one of the backpacks, my little Molly looked up at me and said, “Dis is food for Jesus. I giving food to Baby Jesus. I wuv Him.” I guess she gets it after all.
Once upon a time, Danielle was a very happy kindergarten teacher. Now, Danielle is a happily at home wife and mom of three. She blogs about her love of children's literature at Mommy and Me Book Club. You can also find her sharing ideas on her Facebook page.
What a special experience! As mentioned in my Kindness Challenge #4 post, I really do feel that "family values are more caught than taught." Danielle's children are so lucky to have experiences like this to go out and serve other people and discover firsthand that they can make a difference.
In addition to teaching her children about serving others, Danielle shares tons of activities and craft ideas over on her Mommy and Me Book Club blog. I love her two most recent posts- one about activities to go along with the book Three Little Kittens and one filled with great book-related ideas for The Snowy Day.
What are some little ways that you serve alongside your children?
If you've missed any of our kindness challenge posts so far, you can catch up by clicking the links below:
Also, have you donated to The Heart Project yet? As our ultimate kind act we are trying to raise over $2,000 for the American Heart Association by February 14th. I actually think that we can raise more than that... since we raised a $1,000 in just one day. We'd love to give you our free ebook filled with 100 + heart projects for kids when you donate. Go check it out!
Phew, man I am tired! Reading about all of these awesome projects is making me exhausted. Off to bed before 1am for once! Goodnight. 🙂